PJ Hogan has set his next film: The Calligrapher, a comedy adapted from the debut novel by British writer Edward Docx.
Hogan is co-writing the screenplay with Docx and will direct the film to be shot in London late this year as a UK-Australian co-production.
The producers are Cecilia Cordeiro of UK-based MGR Films and Bronte Pictures’ Blake Northfield, whose credits include Storm Ashwood’s thriller Escape and Evasion and his debut feature The School.
Published in 2003, the novel is described as a modern tale of sexual mores and city life involving spurned lovers, seduction, revenge and surprising secrets.
The protagonist is Jasper Jackson, a calligrapher and incorrigible philanderer who elaborately orchestrates his seductions. He is transcribing, for a wealthy client, 30 of John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets when he spies an aloof beauty outside his window. For the first time he falls helplessly in love. Eventually he gets his comeuppance.
“The Calligrapher is a hilarious portrayal of love and revenge. I’m excited to be working on such a terrific project, one that feels more relevant now than ever,” says Hogan, who is currently working on Muriel’s Wedding the Musical.
His most recent screen credit was as co-writer and co-executive producer of Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker. He has not directed a feature since Mental in 2012.
Cordeiro optioned the novel and teamed up with Hogan. Northfield heard of the project when he was working on another film with Moorhouse and proposed making it as a co-pro with MGR Films.
Docx tells IF: “It’s been a long time working on this but hopefully we will have a film by the end of the year. PJ is the greatest teacher any writer could wish for.”
The producers intend to draw on talent from both nations and Hogan will do the post in Oz. His US agent CAA will help with financing and casting and the producers aim to start pre-sales at the Cannes market.
Cordeiro says: “We are very excited to be working with PJ Hogan in this wonderful comedy and to have Bronte Pictures on board.
“With his distinctive humour and flair, PJ is the perfect director for The Calligrapher, a film that is at once hilarious and super clever, with enthralling characters that will appeal to a wide range of audiences worldwide.”
Having just finished Ashwood’s war drama, Northfield says it’s refreshing to work in the comedy space, observing: “PJ is one of Australia’s greatest’s talents. We’re very proud to be working with him on this film.”